born on 31/7/1951 in Brooklyn, NY, United States
Links www.levyland.com (English)
Howard Levy (born July 31, 1951) is an American multi-instrumentalist. He was a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, with whom he won a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the song "The Sinister Minister". He also won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition in 2012 for "Life in Eleven", a song written with Béla Fleck for the Flecktones' album Rocket Science (2011). He has worked with Arab-fusion musician Rabih Abou-Khalil, Latin jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, Donald Fagen, and Paul Simon.
Levy was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied piano and pipe organ. For two years, he went to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and participated in the jazz band. He is the Harmonica Lessons instructor for ArtistWorks.
Levy plays in many genres: jazz, classical, rock, folk, Latin, blues, country, and world music. He drew attention for his chromatic playing style on a regular diatonic harmonica. He discovered the overblow and overdraw techniques for chromatic playing in 1970. These allow a harmonica player to obtain all the missing chromatic notes in the Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica.
In 1995, he performed the "Harmonia Mundi Suite for Harmonica and Chamber Ensemble" in Chicago. He composed a concerto for harmonica in 2001 and performed it with orchestras in the U.S. and Europe.
In 1988, Levy co-founded Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He won a Grammy for Pop Instrumental for the song "The Sinister Minister". He left the band in 1992. Levy toured with Kenny Loggins and appeared on his album Outside from the Redwoods. Levy returned to the Flecktones in 2011, touring and recording the album Rocket Science (2011).
He is the founder of Balkan Samba Records. The roster includes Chévere de Chicago, Alberto Mizrahi and Trio Globo, Fox Fehling, and Norman Savitt.
Touring and recording with others
Levy has toured or recorded with John Prine, Ben Sidran, Bob Gibson, Bobby McFerrin, Bryan Bowers, Chuck Mangione, Claudio Roditi, David Bromberg, Dennis DeYoung, Dolly Parton, Donald Fagen, Holly Cole, Jerry Butler, Mark Nauseef, Miroslav Tadic, Paquito D'Rivera, Pete Seeger, Steve Goodman, Terry Callier, and Tom Paxton.
Levy favors an equal temperament tuning and plays harmonicas customized by Joe Filisko.
Awards and honors
- Joseph Jefferson Award, Best Original Music for a Play (1986)
- Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental, "The Sinister Minister", Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (1997)
- Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, "Life in Eleven" (2012)
As leader or co-leader
- Carnival of Souls (Silver Wave, 1995)
- The Old Country (M.A., 1996)
- The Stranger's Hand (Tone Center, 1999)
- Cappuccino with Fox Fehling (Balkan Samba, 2004)
- Secret Dream (Balkan Samba, 2005)
- Howard Levy & Paul Sprawl (Balkan Samba, 2005)
- Time Capsules (Balkan Samba, 2009)
- Tonight and Tomorrow (CD Baby/Chicago Sessions, 2009)
- Silver & Black (Enja, 2009)
- Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica & Orchestra (Balkan Samba, 2010)
- Alone and Together (Balkan Samba, 2010)
- Steering by the Stars (Stonecutter, 2010)
- Out of the Box (Balkan Samba, 2012)
- Matzah to Menorah (Balkan Samba, 2012)
- First Takes (Balkan Samba, 2014)
- Tango and Jazz (Balkan Samba, 2016)
With Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
- Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (1990)
- Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (1991)
- UFO Tofu (1992)
- Live Art (1996)
- Rocket Science (2011)
With Rabih Abou-Khalil
- The Sultan's Picnic (Enja, 1994)
- Odd Times (Enja, 1997)